Understanding Central Asia
A series of short introductory talks on politics and society in Central Asia, Afghanistan and Xinjiang, China by academics. The interviews were recorded by S L James during 2008.
Afghanistan: Dr Antonio Giustozzi, London School of Economics [August 2008]
Kazakhstan: Dr Bhavna Dave, School of Oriental and African Studies [January 2008]
Kyrgyzstan: Dr Nick Megoran, University of Newcastle upon Tyne [November 2008]
Tajikistan: Dr John Heathershaw, University of Exeter [August 2008]
Turkmenistan: Dr Michael Denison, University of Leeds [November 2008]
Uzbekistan: Dr Sean Roberts, George Washington University [September 2008]
Xinjiang: Dr Michael Dillon, Tsinghua University [June 2008]
Dr Antonio Giustozzi is a research fellow at the Crisis States Research Centre at the London School of Economics and has already authored War, politics and society in Afghanistan, 1978-1992 (Georgetown University Press, 2000), which analysed the policies of the pro-Soviet government. He is currently researching various aspects of governance and politics in Afghanistan and has written several articles and papers on this subject, covering 'warlordism', the formation of the new Afghan National Army, the Afghan insurgency in the 1980s and state building. He previously served in the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (2003-4). Some of his recent articles include: "Afghanistan: Political Parties or Militia Fronts?" in Transforming rebel movements after civil wars, ed. by J. de Zeeuw, (Lynne Reinner Publishers, forthcoming 2007); "Auxiliary force or national army? Afghanistan's 'ANA' and the counter-insurgency effort, 2002-2006", Small Wars and Insurgencies, Vol. 18, No. 1, March 2007; 'The inverted cycle: Kabul and the strongmen's competition for control over Kandahar, 2001-2006', Central Asian Survey Volume 26, No. 2, June 2007; and "The privatizing of war and security in Afghanistan: future or dead end?", The Economics of Peace and Security Journal, Vol. 2, No. 1, January 2007.
Dr John Heathershaw: I am a Lecturer in International Relations with interests in three broad areas: the Former Soviet Union, in particular the Central Asian republics; theories and practices of post-conflict peacebuilding; and, new directions in international relations theory, including the study of simulation and virtual international politics. I have spent several years working for governmental, international non-governmental and academic institutions in and on Central Asia. From 2008-2010 I am serving as an international scholar for the Open Society Institute’s Central Asia Research Training Initiative where I am mentoring and collaborating with two junior scholars from Tajikistan. I am also an associate fellow of the Exeter Centre for Ethno-political Studies (EXCEPS), a research associate of Exeter Turkish Studies and a participant in the research group on Communism and Communist States.
Dr Bhavna Dave is a lecturer in Central Asian Politics at the Department of Politics and International Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She specializes in issues of ethnic relations, identity politcs and political transition in Central Asia. Dr Dave is author of Kazakhstan: Ethnicity, Language and Power, Routledge 2007.
Dr Nick Megoran: I am a political geographer, a lecturer in human geography at Newcastle Univerity, in the school of Geography, Politics and Sociology. I have been working here since December 2005. Prior to this, I have taught in Cambridge, Osh, and Ferghana, and studied in Durham, Roskilde, Cambridge and Osh.
I study the political geographies and geopolitics of post-Cold War inter-state relations. I am currently exploring this through research in two main areas:
The first is the building of nation-states in modern Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, with particular attention paid to border regions and boundary disputes. I am currently writing a book on this topic, provisionally entitled, The social life of borders: territory, nationalism and geopolitical identities along the Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan boundary, which is forthcoming with Ashgate publiers.
The second is the place of religion and the church in war and peace, with particular reference to debates over the present British government's involvement in the so-called 'war of terror.' I am exploring the political significance of how certain events - the Crusades and the September 2001 attacks in the USA - are remembered, and the implications of this remembering or forgetting for either perpetuating conflict or effecting reconciliation.
Dr Michael Denison is a lecturer at the Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds: I work on the former Soviet Union, focusing on Central Asia. I am an Associate Fellow of the Russia and Eurasia programme at Chatham House, and also Reviews editor for the journal Civil Wars.
I act as a peer reviewer for the journal Central Asian Survey and am an external expert for Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) democracy promotion and capacity building projects in the Caucasus and Central Asia. My research interests are the politics, economies and security of the former Soviet Union, particularly Central Asia and the Caucasus.
Teaching. I am a module leader for two undergraduate modules 'Politics in Russia' and 'Political Corruption'. I am also a dissertation advisor.
My areas of current and possible supervision include politics, security and business issues in the former Soviet Union.
Publications: The Paradox of Personal Rule: Post-Soviet Turkmenistan, Columbia University Press/Hurst (2008).
Dr Sean Roberts Joined the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University in 2008 as the Director of the International Development Studies program, Professor Roberts is a cultural anthropologist with extensive applied experience in international development work.
Having conducted ethnographic fieldwork among the Uyghur people of Central Asia and China during the 1990s, he has published extensively on this community in scholarly journals and in collected volumes. In addition, he produced a documentary film on the community entitled Waiting for Uighurstan (1996).
In 1998-2000 and 2002-2006, he worked at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Central Asia on democracy programs, designing and managing projects in civil society development, political party assistance, community development, independent media strengthening, and elections assistance.
During the 2006-07 and 2007-08 academic years, Dr. Roberts was a post-doctoral fellow in Central Asian Affairs at Georgetown University. At the same time, he continued to work on development projects for a variety of NGOs and served as a Senior Program Officer at the Center for Civil Society and Governance at the Academy for Educational Development where he managed a peace-building project in Darfur, Sudan and an anti-corruption project in Moldova.
He is the author of a popular blog on Central Asia, entitled The Roberts Report on Central Asia and Kazakhstan (www.roberts-report.com) and frequently comments on current events in Central Asia for the media and the foreign policy community.
Recent publications include "Daily Negotiations of Islam in Central Asia: Practicing Religion in the Uyghur Neighborhood of Zarya Vostoka in Almaty, Kazakhstan" in Everyday Life in Central Asia, Past and Present, University of Indiana Press, (2006); "The Dawn of the East: A Uyghur Community Between Central Asia and China" in Situating the Uyghurs, Ashgate Publishers (2007); and Doing the Democracy Dance in Central Asia: The Formal, Informal, and Unintended in U.S. Democracy Assistance to Kazakhstan (2008).
Dr Michael Dillon is a frequent commentator on Chinese affairs for the BBC and other broadcasters. He was formerly Director of Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Durham, UK, where he taught Chinese and Chinese history. His previous publications include China: A Historical and Cultural Dictionary, China's Muslim Hui Community: Migration, Settlement and Sects, Xinjiang: China's Muslim far Northwest and most recently Contemporary China: An Introduction (all published by RoutledgeCurzon).
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